Everyone loves texting — so much, in fact, that many people will text 100 times rather than make a short phone call. Texting is convenient, fast, and, best of all, requires only a basic cellphone.

So why is it that, while friends and families text one another constantly throughout the day, many businesses fail to take advantage of the most popular form of communication for U.S. adults under the age of 50?

Why Companies Should Text

Texting is critical to your personal life, but as long as you heed the rules for basic texting etiquette, it can also be a powerful business communication tool.

Texting is truly instant. Right now, there’s only one way to reach thousands of people with a single click. Adding 1,000 senders to an email takes forever, and it’s likely to be flagged by spam filters. Calling 1,000 people takes hours, even assuming the first 1,000 people you call pick up the phone. But once you hit “send” on a text, your message arrives within seconds. And there’s a 90 percent chance that message will be read within three minutes of its delivery.

Sure, some people use push notifications to check their emails, but even they don’t read every email upon arrival. And email overload can prompt people to delete hundreds of emails in one fell swoop. Phone calls take time, which is your most valuable resource in business. Texting, on the other hand, is easy, fast, and unobtrusive.

People still trust texts. We’re conditioned to treat any email from an unknown source as spam, an advertisement, or a virus. But because people pay to send and receive texts, texting is a clear channel. Nobody wants to pay to spam others when email is free, and carriers enforce strict rules against spam to protect customers. Consequently, people haven’t been conditioned to ignore unexpected text messages the same way they have emails.

Mobile carriers are working to keep lines clear as well, meaning that if a message looks like impersonal spam, it’s going to raise some eyebrows from the network provider. And if you receive any spam messages, you can now report them by forwarding the message.

People actually read texts. When your pocket buzzes, as long as you’re not in a meeting or on a date, you pull out the phone to see who wants to talk.

SMS message open rates top 99 percent. Compare that with open rates for email campaigns, which are below 20 percent for major industries such as insurance, e-commerce, and beauty and personal care.

Calling a large number of people takes more manpower than texting, and it results in fewer potential customers hearing your message. People hang up on automated recordings, and they’re increasingly installing filters to block calls from unknown sources.

When a Text Is Better

To use texting effectively in business, it’s important to understand which scenarios call for a message rather than a phone call or email. Bombarding customers’ phones with texts will only turn them off.

Here are some situations in which texting could give your team the communication edge:

  1. Temporary staffing: If you need to reach 1,000 people to let them know you have jobs available in an hour, nothing beats a text. This happens all the time in manufacturing. Automated phone systems are bulky and intrusive, and many people plainly don’t read their emails. One message — “We need 100 people by 7 a.m.” — makes everyone’s phones buzz at once.
  2. Customer service: If you provide a service with status updates (for instance, a carrier service), text messaging can help keep customers up-to-date on the progress of a delivery. A laundry service can send updates when laundry is collected and when it’s ready for pickup, all through the convenience of texts.
    If your business is a retailer and you miss a call from a customer, a text message lets you respond quickly and offers an advertisement opportunity as well. Something as simple as “So sorry we missed your call! Would you like to take advantage of today’s special on roses?” gives the customer a personalized response and incentivizes a sale. Best of all, the communication remains visible in the customer’s message logs, providing a lasting reminder of your service.
  1. Sales: Salespeople have to be friendly and relatable. We make a lot of purchasing decisions on the basis of personal relationships, and we want our salesperson to be someone we trust. Good friends don’t always email each other; they text. Savvy salespeople can walk that line between friendly and professional with a few well-placed text messages.
  2. Food service and couriers: Personalized content is the difference between useful messages and spam. Look at White Castle’s approach: The fast food retailer sends out location-specific alerts and coupons to consumers who opt in to its texting program. When an enrolled customer is near a participating White Castle restaurant, he receives deals through text to encourage him to visit. Particularly with fast-food restaurants, SMS coupons have redemption rates of up to 30 percent.
    For members of the delivery industry, texting is the perfect way to communicate a parcel delivery or update the customer on a delivery’s progress. Amazon has realized this, and its customers can opt in to receive updates whenever a package is shipped, out for delivery, delivered, or delayed.
  1. Fundraising: Remember when the American Red Cross encouraged users to text a number to donate to relief efforts after the devastating Haitian earthquake in 2010? The nonprofit organization raised $112 million via texting alone; $3 million poured in during just the first 24 hours of the campaign.
    Texting can also be a great tool for political campaigns, fundraisers for school supplies, or any time you need to reach a large pool of potential donors quickly.

The Message of the Future

Using SMS messaging, you can send texts, media, links, and any other information customers might want. You don’t need to hire a developer, you don’t need a fancy app, and you don’t need to pay a dime. Simply use your computer or phone to get your message out.

If you want people to read what you have to say, stand out from the crowd and text it.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock